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Thomas Rogers (1804-1852) & Elizabeth Wilcox (1809-1881)
Thomas was born in Scotland, emigrate with his parents to Canada in 1818, then to Bay City, Mich., about 1836. Elizabeth was born in New York, afterwards moved to Canada.

1905 biography. (Added Mar., 2009)

History of Bay County, Michigan 1883.


Thomas Rogers was born in Scotland, October 16, 1804. His father emigrated to Canada in 1818, and settled some five miles north of Toronto, where Thomas learned the trade of blacksmith and machinist. Here he married Miss Elizabeth Wilcox, November 13, 1828, where he lived until the Patriot war broke out, when he and his brothers espoused the side of the Patriots. His brothers were arrested and taken to Kingston and put in confinement in the fort as prisoners of war, or rebels. Shortly after, one of the brothers scaled the fort and made his escape to the United States. Shortly after, the two other brothers were released and returned to their homes.

Thomas, the subject of this sketch, came to Michigan in 1836 or 1837. At Detroit he met our old fellow pioneer, Harvey Williams, now of East Saginaw, who employed him to go to Saginaw to help put the machinery in a mill that the Messrs. Williams were then building at Saginaw City, which was the first mill on the Saginaw River. After working here for some time, Mr. Rogers was employed to go to Portsmouth, now South Bay City, to put the machinery in a mill that was then building there by Judge Miller, now of Bay City, B. K. Hall, and others. This was in the month of October, but what year it was we have no record, but think it was in 1837 or 1838. The next July he started back for his family and removed them to Portsmouth, where he moved them into a little log house on the banks of the river, which stood where Albert Miller's upper salt works now stand. After running the mill a short time, the hard times came on, and the mill was shut down as there was no sale for lumber, and the mill remained still for some time, when B. K. Hall sold his interest to James McCormick & Son. When Mr. McCormick removed his family from his farm above Saginaw and commenced running the mill, again, Mr. Rogers was employed to put the machinery in order and to do the blacksmith work.

Prior to this, Judge Miller had got a mail route established between Portsmouth and Saginaw, and the mail came once a week. Judge Miller was postmaster and Mr. Rogers was deputy. Mr. Rogers did the machine work in the mill besides carrying the mail once a week to and from Saginaw. He was to have the proceeds of the office for carrying the mail, which did not consist of over three or four letters and two or three papers at a time. In the Summer he went in a canoe and in Winter he carried it on foot, walking on the ice, making about twenty-eight miles travel to and from Saginaw, which was not a big paying contract. Nevertheless, it was kept up for years, until settlers became more plenty, when Mr. Rogers was relieved and the government established a regular mail route to connect with the regular Winter mail to and from Sault St. Marie and Mackinaw, which was brought to Lower Saginaw with dog trains over two hundred miles, by half breed Indians. After James McCormick bought the mill Mr. Rogers continued carrying the mail and doing what little blacksmith work there was to be done for the few settlers.

Mr. Rogers removed from Portsmouth to Lower Saginaw, now Bay City, in 1842, and built a small house on what is now the corner of Center and Water Streets, where the Shearer Block now stands, and built a blacksmith shop on the opposite side of Water Street, where the Griswold Block now is, where he worked at his trade many years. In the Summer of 1852, Mr. Rogers went up alone on the prairie some three or four miles above Bay City to cut prairie hay, and was there taken sick with the cholera, where he would have soon died had not Orrin Kinney and Archibald McCormick, who were returning home from cutting hay, found him. They soon made a litter of two poles and a blanket and brought him home, but he only survived a short time. He died August 9, 1852, much respected by all the old pioneers who had shared with him in his joys and sorrows, and in the trials they had all passed through. Mr. Rogers was a sincere Christian in the latter part of his life. He left a wife and seven children, viz.: Peter L., Hial B., Ester, Bettie, John A., Ellen and Thomas J. Peter L. is at Deadwood, D. T; Hial B. died in 1867; Ester is the wife of Capt. Riley M. Burrington, of Bay City; Bettie is the wife of Charles B. Cottrell, of Bay City; John A. is at AuGres, Mich., engaged in the shingle and mercantile business; Ellen is the wife of F. W. Lankenau, of West Bay City; and Thomas J. is now in Texas.

And now in regard to this noble man's wife! I fear I am inadequate to do her justice. It would take a better pen to portray her many acts of benevolence, her many acts of womanly devotion to suffering humanity and to the pioneers and their families in the hours of sickness and death in those early days that tried men's souls.

Mrs. Elizabeth Rogers, wife of Thomas Rogers, was the daughter of an eminent physician, Dr. Wilcox, of Eatertown, N. Y., who afterward moved to Toronto, Canada. She was born November 12, 1809. When a young girl she attended her father's office and filled his prescriptions. She became a great student, and to such an extent did she pursue the study of medicine that at the age of eighteen she was often consulted by her father on different cases, and it was that which fitted her in after years to be of such great benefit to the settlers of the Saginaw Valley. At the age of nineteen she became the wife of Thomas Rogers. After residing for a time near Toronto, she came with her husband to Michigan in 1837-'38 and settled in Portsmouth, now South Bay City.

From 1837 to 1850 she was the only practicing physician to the early settlers. At all hours of the day or night, when called upon, you would find her at the bedside of the sick and dying. Through storm or snow, rain or shine, it made no difference to her. Sometimes on horseback, sometimes on foot through woods. She felt it to be her duty, and like an angel of mercy, she did it, and would have continued to do so, but as settlers began to come in, also doctors came. She still visited the sick of a few old settlers, for they would have none other but her. There was scarcely a birth for twenty years but what she was present. In that dreadful year of the cholera, which swept off so many of the inhabitants, she was at the bedside of the sick and dying, administering assistance and comfort without money and without price. Yes, without any remuneration, for she made no charge. She felt it a duty she owed her fellow creatures, and nobly did she do it. Oftentimes the settlers would send her something, and she would accept it thank fully. Your humble servant was once taken with the cholera. She was immediately sent for, and but for her I might not now be here to pen these few lines as a tribute to her memory. Some time since, in conversing with the old lady, she said, "How things have changed." "Yes," I answered, "we have seen Bay City and its surroundings rise from three or four families to a population of 20,000." "No," she said, "I do not mean that; but there are no such noble hearted men and women now, as among the early pioneers. It seems almost as if God had chosen such men and women to make the beginning here, or it never would have been done." I thought she was right.

She said, "When we first came here,we lived in a little log house on the bank of the river, and the wolves howled so at night we could not sleep. I have looked out of my door many a time in the middle of the day, and have seen a pack of wolves playing on the opposite side of the river where Salzburg now stands." One day two Indians who had been drinking came to her house while her husband was away to work some miles from home. She fastened the door. They demanded admittance and told her if she did not open the door they would break it down. They went to the wood pile, got the ax and began breaking in the door. She seized an iron rake, opened the door and knocked the first Indian senseless; the other ran off. This is only to show what a courageous woman she was. When circumstances required, she was as brave as a lion, and when her sympathies were called into action she was as tender as a child. Mrs. Rogers died in Bay City, July 16, 1881.

Additional Notes.

Note: Bay County wasn't organized until 1857, and the area north of the village of Saginaw was under Hampton Township attached to Saginaw Co.

    1850 Census: Hampton, Saginaw, Mich.

  • Rodgers, Thomas - age 42, b. Scotland, blacksmith
  • Elizabeth, wife - age 40, b. Canada
  • Hial, son - age 21, b. Canada
  • Peter, son - age 21, b. Canada
  • Ester, dau. - age 16, b. Canada (aka. Burrington, died 19 Jan 1902)
  • Elizabeth, dau. - age 12, b. Mich.(aka. Pattrell, died 10 Oct 1904)
  • John, son - age 6, b. Mich.
  • Ellen, dau. - age 6, b. Mich.
  • Thomas, son - age 2, b. Mich.

    1881 - Michigan Deaths: Bay City, Bay, Mich.

  • Elizabeth Rodgers, widow, age 73, b. New York, died July 19, 1881
Related Note & Pages

Thomas Rogers
Elizabeth Wilcox

Related Pages:
Rogers, Elizabeth wife
Burrlingto, Riley M.s-inlaw
McCormick, James
Pine Ridge Cemetery
People Referenced
Burrington, Riley M. (s-inlaw)
Cottrell, Charles B. (s-inlaw)
Hall, B.K.
Kinney, Orrin
Lankenau, F.W. (s-law)
McCormick, Archibald
McCormick, James
Miller, Albert (Judge)
Rogers, Bettie (dau.)
Rogers, Ellen (dau)
Rogers, Ester (son)
Rogers, Hial B. (son)
Rogers, John (son)
Rogers, Peter L. (son)
Rogers, Thomas (subject)
Rogers, Thomas, Jr. (son)
Wilcox, Dr. (f-inlaw)
Wilcox, Elizabeth (wife)
Williams, Harvey
Subjects Referenced
Au Gres, MI
Bay City, MI
Bay County, MI
Detroit, MI
East Saginaw, MI
Eastertown, NY
Griswold block
Hampton Twp. Bay, MI
James McCormick & Son
Kingston, Canada
Lower Saginaw, MI
Mackinaw, MI
Portsmouth, Bay, MI
Saginaw City, MI
Saginaw River, MI
Saginaw Valley, MI
Salzburg, MI
Sault St. Marie, MI
Shearer block
South Bay City, MI
Toronto, Canada
West Bay City, MI
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.